Could you introduce yourself, and talk us through how you ended up being a lingerie designer?
I was born and grew up in Manchester. I think being a teenager during the Manchester music scene in the 90’s was more influential on my taste and passions than any other experience!
After getting a fashion degree at Kingston University in London I decided that the high fashion scene wasn’t for me and I went off to LA to design costumes for low budget fantasy movies – I found myself designing costumes for warrior nuns and demon overlords – I loved it! But when my visa expired I had to come back to the UK. I was lucky to get offered a job at Diesel soon after, which was a great company for me to work for, very laid back and creative. I lived in Italy for 4 years.
When I returned to London I freelanced in casual wear design – and designed jeans for some very corporate companies. I was a bit disheartened at this point, forced to design according to budget rather than good taste! I had this growing desire to create something delicate and beautifully made, in my own style and found myself starting my first collection for Bela’s Dead. It certainly wasn’t a commercial decision; it was more like an escape from work!
Your collection is very unique and personal. What are your main inspirations, and how did you translate them into your lingerie?
I know my biggest inspiration is music – the deep dark kind of music that makes me feel something. I like songs and art that tell stories too, so I wanted to use artwork that would suggest another, secret world, I had worked with Klaus Haapaniemi ( who did all the illustrations for Bela’s Dead) while I was at Diesel and thought everything he did was extraordinary. So his work was also a great inspiration for the collection.
Your work looks ambitious. Are you? Where do you see yourself Bela’s Dead in five years?
That’s a good question! I’m not ambitious in a commercial way, or I wouldn’t have designed something as personal as Bela’s Dead, which has a very distinctive style and is not going to be for the mainstream. Actually I didn’t think about my market – or even pause to find out if I had one… but luckily there are girls out there who totally get it. They want to wear something that reflects their alternative tastes – but made to a high end standard. That’s what I love most – when a girl from Geneva or Berlin contacts me, so excited to have found her ‘soul lingerie’. Some talented females like Karen O from the yeah Yeah Yeahs and Dita Von Tees have also found the brand to their taste…which is really wonderful.
In five years I hope Bela’s Dead is still growing, carefully, in the right direction. We have just been taken up by Mixona lingerie store in New York and the beautiful Bar D’oh in Belgium. I hope Bela’s Dead continues to reach even further into far away places but not through the big stores – in the special, unique boutiques which complement the brand and vice versa – it does seem that all my keenest customers come from far away corners of the Earth!
One last question: If there’s any other brand you’d have to compare Bela’s Dead with, which one would it be, and why?
It’s a bit of an obvious one – but closest comparison would have to be Agent Provocateur. They have a very strong identity and have always stuck to it, which I really like, but their 50’s pin up style is very different to mine, which is a little darker…